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Emmy Griffin / August 25, 2021

Part I: Identity as an American

Politics is downstream of culture, and the culture wars are chipping away at our collective identity.

Over the next few weeks, this author will be exploring the main battlegrounds of the culture wars in the context of how they diverge from the American identity. In order to do this effectively, we must first define what the American identity is.

In an article by Air Force Academy professor Ryan Dawkins, he paraphrases the late Nobel Prize recipient Gunnar Myrdal, author of the book The American Dilemma. The Swedish economist, explains Dawkins, “famously wrote that American identity is built around a constellation of ideals — namely, individualism, liberty, equality, hard-work, and the rule of law — that comprise the American Creed. As long as people endorse these core values, they are part of the national community. In many ways, this distinctiveness is at the heart of our historic notion of American exceptionalism.” Myrdal’s insight was incredibly important at the time due to his perspective as a foreigner.

Ironically, Dawkins goes on to argue in favor of today’s main social justice talking points. But we can certainly agree on his surface-level formalization of American identity. Let’s reemphasize that individualism, Liberty, equality, hard work, and Rule of Law, as endorsed collectively, make up our national identity. We, as Americans, have to agree on these basic premises in order to embody the American spirit. These ideals are what make us American.

The American experiment revolved around a Judeo-Christian-based political theory that had never been tried before. The colonies had been subject to the whims of a parliamentary monarchy that tyrannically refused to assuage their desire for liberty. The Founding Fathers, when putting this theory to practice, were very particular on the God-given rights of men. Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on the State of Virginia wrote: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?”

Furthermore, we are also united by a common language, symbols, and history. Some of our history is disgracefully dark. Humans the world over are perpetrators of sin, and it is no different here in the U.S. The antagonists of the American identity use the sins of slavery and racism to bring about the convolution of language and the tearing down of symbols. These slings and arrows are the foundation to cancel culture.

As we step into the morasses that are the modern-day culture wars, each missile is aimed at the heart of the American identity. The attacks bombard the very truths upon which our country was founded. Let’s name these cannon balls: the LGBTQ+ identity in sexuality; the “transgender” identity rooted in the belief that gender is a socially made construct; and the ultra-dangerous combination of Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory, both of which use the sins of the past as a baton with which to bludgeon current generations. These identity groups are all united in their victimhood status. In other words, they are the victims of inequality and the crimes of our history. There is just enough of a kernel of truth to their claims to gain ammunition. But that ammunition manifests in a leftist worldview that is becoming more radical and corrupt.

They say politics is downstream of culture, and the culture wars are chipping away at the heart of the American identity. Today, our political theory has shifted towards statism. And Critical Race Theory threatens to establish straight-up Marxism. Social activists are seeking to set up a new religion: the idolatry of self, united by victimhood. However, if we can’t agree to go back to the Judeo-Christian roots that made us an exceptional nation — a return to the American Creed, i.e. indisputable truths, so eloquently defined by Gunnar Myrdal — then we are destined to go the way of Greece and Rome … a slow, corrupt decline into the abyss of history.

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